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Dining Table & Porcelain

Dining Table & Porcelain

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Tableware are the dishes or dishware used for setting a table, serving food and dining. It includes cutlery, glassware, serving dishes and other items for practical as well as decorative purposes. [1] [2] The quality, nature, variety and number of objects varies according to culture, religion, number of diners, cuisine and occasion. For example, Middle Eastern, Indian or Polynesian food culture and cuisine sometimes limits tableware to serving dishes, using bread or leaves as individual plates. Cups are not dishes. Special occasions are usually reflected in higher quality tableware. [3]

Cutlery is more usually known as silverware or flatware in the United States, where cutlery usually means knives and related cutting instruments elsewhere cutlery includes all the forks, spoons and other silverware items. Outside the US, flatware is a term for "open-shaped" dishware items such as plates, dishes and bowls (as opposed to "closed" shapes like jugs and vases). "Dinnerware" is another term used to refer to tableware and "crockery" refers to ceramic tableware, today often porcelain or bone china. [4] Sets of dishes are referred to as a table service, dinner service or service set. Table settings or place settings are the dishes, cutlery and glassware used for formal and informal dining. In Ireland, such items are normally referred to as delph, the word being an English language phonetic spelling of the word Delft, the town from which so much delftware came. Silver service or butler service are methods for a butler or waiter to serve a meal.

Setting the table refers to arranging the tableware, including individual place settings for each diner at the table as well as decorating the table itself in a manner suitable for the occasion. Tableware and table decoration is typically more elaborate for special occasions. Unusual dining locations demand tableware be adapted.


Unfortunately, the great Bunsei era fire of August 9, 1828 gutted the center of Arita, destroying many invaluable historical records, and leaving only a limited number of primary sources for the 17th to early 19th century history of Arita.

Accordingly, to estimate the scope and value of transactions, and types of designs and articles commonly traded, historians and ceramics researchers have relied on a variety of sources: documents of the Nabeshima domain commerce records of Chinese ships, the Dutch East India Company, and Imari merchants dealing in Arita porcelain ledgers of overseas trading houses and European palace inventories and archaeological excavations, and unearthed articles from the residences of wealthy merchants and daimyo’s mansions all over Japan.

From among such materials, the most accurate sources are the trading ledgers of the Dutch East India Company. According to the records, from 1659 exports rapidly increased over the 1660s, peaked in the 1670s, held steady and declined from 1690 due to the following reasons: in 1684, in China the Qing dynasty won its power struggle with the Ming dynasty and issued edicts to encourage overseas trade and export and in 1685, the Edo Shogunate restricted the annual volume of trade in Nagasaki to 6,000 kanme of silver for Chinese ships and 3,000 kanme for Dutch ships. (One early Edo period kanme is worth about 2 million yen today.) *1

In addition, domestic demand for ceramics was also increasing, resulting in a steep rise in home prices, and the ceramics of Arita were unable to compete on price with the Chinese competition this is also one of the major factors in a decline of exports. *2

It was general traders from other regions and porcelain merchants from Imari who by supporting distribution across Japan enabled domestic demand to replace the decline in exports. It is known that in the 17th century, porcelain merchants from Edo sometimes visited the Sarayama area in Arita to directly purchase ceramic wares from the kamayaki (potteries).

“In 1668, Imariya Gorobei, a porcelain merchant in Edo, in response to a request from Date Mutsunokami Tsunamune, the lord of the Sendai domain, traveled down to Arita. While purchasing everyday goods, he was on the look-out for exquisite tableware, but unable to find any masterpieces, he asked advice from local kamayaki and they recommended the master potter Tsuji Kiemon Imariya placed an order straightaway and much to his delight was later rewarded with splendid tableware decorated with a blue flower pattern upon his return two years later in 1670, he delivered these pieces to the Date family.” *3

It is also recorded that in addition to Imariya Gorobei, other merchants such as Fujimoto Chozaemon, Aoyama Kobei, and Tomimura Morisaburo were active, and a farmer named Kisoji after obtaining permission from the domain went to Osaka to sell porcelain from Arita. *4 。

In the 18th century, porcelain ware was a luxury only for the upper classes, but by the 19th century, it was commonly used in daily life by ordinary people and lent a little flair to their dining tables. The tableware and dishes portrayed in the ukiyo-e woodblock prints of Utagawa Hiroshige, Utagawa Toyokuni and other well-known ukiyo-e artists of the Edo period tell of a rich food culture. *5 。

In the study of the maturation of food culture, such as the variety of tableware and table manners, some researchers point out that up to the 17th and 18th centuries, the scenes depicted in paintings and prints of the East show a far more sophisticated culture than found in Europe. *6 。

Today, Japanese-style food is very popular throughout the world, and is indeed registered as a UNESCO intangible cultural heritage most of its basic cooking methods were established in the Edo period, before the age of modernization. The delicate, thin but robust Arita porcelain with its beautiful appearance and outstanding functionality significantly contributed to the development of the proud Japanese food culture that is so popular today throughout the world.

A History of Imperial Russia, in Porcelain

AMSTERDAM — In 1777, Catherine the Great of Russia commissioned a table service of more than 60 pieces for her lover, Prince Grigory Potemkin, a celebrated military commander of the Russo-Turkish Wars. It was common for royals and nobles to present one another with lavish gifts of porcelain, which was, at that time, considered more valuable than silver and bronze and often called “white gold.”

The Cameo Service, as it is known, is one of the highlights of “Dining With the Tsars,” an exhibition on view through March 1 at the Hermitage Amsterdam, the Dutch outpost of Russia’s State Hermitage museum in St. Petersburg. The show invites visitors to experience, by way of tableware, the sumptuous banquets the Romanovs held during their imperial tenure. With 700 to 800 pieces of porcelain among the roughly 1,000 objects on display, the show also provides a glimpse into the culture surrounding royal dinner parties, and the universe of artisans and artists employed to supply them.

Catherine’s gift, ordered from the Sèvres Porcelain Manufactory in Paris, stood out as particularly exquisite: Each dish, bowl, cup and serving item featured carved and painted imitation cameos, miniature works of art, based on models from the Russian Royal collection. Sixty designs with subjects from Greek and Roman history and mythology served as models, too, for engraved cartouches, hand-painted by Jean-Baptiste-Étienne Genest, head of the Sèvres painting workshop.

The most striking feature of the set, however, was the coloration: repeated gold vignettes with tiny rosettes painted atop a turquoise-tinted, sky-blue ground. To make the special enamel seep into the porcelain, each piece had to be fired three or four times. The work on this project required more than half the painters at the Sèvres factory and a third of its gilders.

Such craftsmanship did not come cheap. When presented with a bill of 331,317 French livres — approximately $70,000 at the time, the equivalent of about $40 million to $50 million today — Catherine balked and refused to pay. The service was sent to Potemkin, but her debt to the factory remained for 20 years. She finally relented in 1792, during the French Revolution, when Sèvres was about to fold because of financial difficulties. She paid her bill, saving the factory, according to legend.

The service is in nearly perfect condition, despite being more than 200 years old. About 700 pieces from the collection have survived dinner parties of more than 1,000 guests in the 18th century, a fire that swept through the Winter Palace in 1837 and the siege of Leningrad in World War II.

Twenty-four complete settings are presented on a single table, along with bottle and glass coolers (which would have been filled with ice), ice cream cups and sweets bowls, compote containers, slop bowls (into which to empty the dregs of cold tea before pouring in a fresh, hot cup), coffee pots and milk jugs, and the single surviving teapot of the set. Unlike most exhibitions of porcelain settings, the items in this show are not showcased in vitrines, but exhibited openly, separated from visitors by only abstract metal chairs that serve as a kind of barrier.

“People are really invited to be guests at the dinner table with the czars,” said Marlies Kleiterp, head of exhibitions at the Hermitage Amsterdam.

This exhibition, she said, is a follow-up to a popular exhibition about the Russian czars that the Hermitage Amsterdam presented at its inauguration five years ago. That show, “At the Russian Court: Palace and Protocol in the 19th Century,” which ran from June 2009 through January 2010, had 705,000 visitors.

The galleries in other exhibition halls put the banquets themselves into context, explaining how guests were invited to the imperial parties, what kinds of clothes they were expected to wear and how the dishes were served — in the 18th century, à la Française, or buffet style, and in the 19th century, à la Russe, served one course after another.

The museum has reproduced some of the original menus from special dinners, including one on the occasion of the coronation of Alexander III in 1881, and one for the 300th Jubilee of the House of Romanov on May 13, 1913.

Some of the 18th-century recipes used by chefs at the Russian royal court have been recreated by chefs at Bridges Restaurant in Amsterdam’s Grand Hotel, near the Hermitage, and offered as a special menu to coincide with the exhibition.

The wall of one gallery features Catherine’s rules of etiquette for her parties. They include: “Do not sigh or yawn. Neither bore or fatigue others.” “Be merry but do not spoil nor break anything.” And the all-important, “Drink in moderation so that you can find your legs on leaving these doors.”

In addition to the Cameo set, the show includes several other large table service sets. Another highlight is the Berlin dessert service that Frederick II, king of Prussia, gave to Catherine at the end of the Russo-Turkish War of 1778. Porcelain figurines that are part of the service depict Catherine surrounded by her people and Turkish prisoners of war. The plates themselves depict different scenes from the history of the war.

“Frederick gave her this service to express his appreciation,” Ms. Kleiterp said. “It was not just a decorative set. It was also meant to be a discussion piece.”

The show spans the 18th and 19th centuries, with the reign of Catherine regarded as the pinnacle of the Romanov dynasty. But even after the Revolution of 1917, banqueting was still an important aspect of Russian diplomatic relations.

The final tableware showcase in the exhibition is a set created by the Herend Porcelain Manufactory of Hungary in 1949, commissioned as a gift from the Hungarian Ministry of Heavy Industry to Stalin. The dinner and dessert service of more than 600 items was never used, but it was shared with the Russian people and added to the State Hermitage’s extensive collection.

Drop-Leaf Tables

Scully & Scully's drop leaf tables are expandable and perfect for any dining room. Shop handcrafted tables from fine woods like satinwood and mahogany now.

Drop leaves with rounded corners. Single hand fitted drawer. Slightly tapered legs with satinwood cuff. Solid brass classic bail hardware. Handmade in America by the finest craftsmen.

Solid wood top, tapered legs and brass terminals. Stationary center support leg and wood table slides. Fillers are numbered and matched to each table.

Measures 19" w x 38" d x 29" h. 34" w with leaves up.


Richly figured rosewood enhanced with satinwood inlays. In the late 18th century Sheraton called this style a writing table -- now it is used in any part of a room. Top has boxwood string inlays and satinwood cross banding. Apron is similarly designed with diamond design and two working drawers with solid brass ring pulls. Two faux drawers in back so it looks the same from either side. Classic trestle base with decorative stretcher connecting to splayed legs with solid brass cups and casters. Handmade in England exclusively for Scully & Scully.

Sides up 61" w x 24" d x 27 ½" h.
Sides down 38" w.

Drop leaves with rounded corners. Two flush hand fitted beaded drawers. Corner brackets on legs. Stretcher with shaped top edge. Solid brass classic bail hardware. Handmade in America by the finest craftsmen.

Measures 18" w x 25" d x 26" h. 35" w with leaves extended.

Stunningly stylish handmade table is solid crotch mahogany, handfinished and hand-waxed. Top surface has cross banding and reeded edge. Fluted legs with solid brass casters. Leaves up: 60"x36"x30"h. Leaves down:26 ¼"x36"x30"h.

Reviews (2)


Versatile table handcrafted from solid woods with yew veneers. Tapered legs terminate in spade feet. Real drawer on one side, faux drawer on opposite side. Handmade in England. Exclusively at Scully & Scully.

Measures 20¾" w x 28" d x 29" h (closed). Measures 37" w x 28" d x 29" h (open).

Whether it&rsquos just the two of you or the whole family, this extraordinary table will serve you perfectly. With two permanent drop-leaf ends and three additional leaves, this single table is able to ranges from 19" to 82" long! Includes three optional 16" long leaves. Handmade of solid mahogany. Exclusively at Scully & Scully.

Measures 19" long x 38" d x 29" h, without leaves inserted and drop-leaves down. Measures 34" long x 38" d x 29" h with drop-leaves raised. Maximum length is 82" with all leaves up and inserted.

Try to Figure Out What Tools Were Used

When hand planes were used to smooth woods, they usually left some sort of uneven surface. This is especially evident on the back or underside of pieces made prior to the mid-1800s. Hand chisels and wood-shaping tools operated with elbow grease left cuts and nicks in the wood.

When circular saws were used (this wasn’t prevalent until the mid-19th century), you can usually see a circular pattern that was left behind as evidence. In comparison, manually operated hand saws left a straighter pattern.

A handcrafted furniture piece does not set it in time as an antique. Furniture is still being crafted by hand today. However, machine-made evidence does give you a better picture of when the piece of furniture could not be from.

In Good Shape: Rectangular, Round & Oval Dining Room Tables

When it comes to tabletop shapes for your modern dining table, there are four key players: rectangular, round, square and oval dining room tables. Rectangular dining tables blend seamlessly into traditional and contemporary spaces alike make a long dining table feel fresh with dining benches on either side. A square dining table is another classic choice that doesn't take up as much room. For a softer look, try a modern round dining table. An oval dining table offers a seating arrangement similar to that of rectangular pieces, while a circular dining table sets the scene for intimate yet casual gatherings. Prefer to make a statement with the silhouette of your modern dining table? Tabletops with fluid lines draw the eye in. Similarly, a sculptural base adds artistic flair to urban spaces.


Photo courtesy Bavarian National Museum/Creative Commons

Once a year, on Thanksgiving Day, I become obsessed with setting the table. Years ago, my sister and I started a tradition of gathering branches, leaves, and pinecones and using them to decorate our Thanksgiving table, and, every year, I still feel compelled to create a perfectly whimsical tableau. I braid bittersweet vines into the chandelier, fill vases with acorns, and strategically scatter leaves down the table’s center. Last year, I convinced my brother to knock an abandoned hornet’s nest from a tree so I could use it as a centerpiece to complete the wild, woodland feel within our dining room.

In daily life, setting the table is often just a chore: laying a plate, fork, knife, and napkin in front of every chair. But, on special occasions, many people try to transform their tables into dreamscapes—and these days, there’s a whole sector of the media devoted to churning out new table-setting ideas. Martha Stewart and Sandra Lee have become the queens of this sector through their lifestyle advice outlets, namely Martha Stewart Living and Semi-Homemade. As a source of inspiration for table settings, Pinterest has an endless stream of images divided into categories like “elegant,” “DIY,” and “rustic.” Any of these tables involves a good deal of aesthetic manipulation involving color schemes, flower arrangements, textiles, and centerpieces. Even the currently trendy “rustic” table (e.g., a wood farm table accented with burlap, bunches of wildflowers tied with twine, and Ball jars) is a carefully planned aesthetic.

A plateau on a formal dining table at Hotel de Charost in Paris in September 2010.

Photo courtesy Thibault Taillandier/Creative Commons

Why do we do this? People haven’t always cared about beautifying their dining tables. The Western craze for dressing the table took hold in the late 18 th century, when the aristocracy turned table-setting into a form of expression. Ever since then, thematically curated tables have often expressed the desire to escape from daily life to a fantasy world, none more ironic than the rustic table, which hearkens back to a time when nobody cared about what the table looked like.

A dining table was once a simple, knockdown affair. In the Middle Ages, when life was rough and uncertain, “setting the table” meant placing a wooden board on top of two trestles in order to make a somewhat sturdy but ultimately moveable table. The table was merely a platform for food to be laid upon. Even at royal feasts, the only ornament on the table was a nef, a vessel made to hold salt. People brought their own knives and spoons, and ate on slices of bread instead of plates. Tables might be covered with cloth, but this was less decoration and more a giant, communal napkin for diners to wipe their hands on.

Painting by Fanny Brate/National Museum

Over time, improved manufacturing technologies led to a boom in utensils and flatware. Elite European tables have displayed silver dishware since the Middle Ages, but the variety of dishes for holding food continually increased, as they became more specific and more ornate. This trend peaked in the Victorian Era, when an abundance of silver, glass, and porcelain contributed to the table’s shiny new look, with about 20 pieces per place setting (including dishes, glasses, and silverware). However, it was the shift from service à la française to service à la russe between 1750 and 1900 that led to elaborate, sometimes absurd, table settings.

Service à la française brought all the dishes to the table at once, so the concerns of laying a table focused on where to place each dish. By contrast, service à la russe left the table bare as servants brought out each course one at a time to be placed on the sideboard, and served to guests on individual plates, as exemplified in Downton Abbey. The void had to be filled with pretty things for the eye to latch onto, leading to an elaborate visual culture that persists on our tabletops.

Centerpieces quickly became another way for the aristocracy and high society to display their wealth. In the mid-18th century, the wealthy laid their tables with ornate silver baskets called epergnes, long mirrored trays called plateaus, flowers, and candelabras.

The upper class hired decorators to arrange intricate and dramatic scenes for the center of their tables, attempting to transport guests to another world. A Parson Woodforde wrote in his diary about an encounter with a fantasy table in 1783 which displayed, “A most beautiful Artificial Garden in the Center of the Table … in the middle of which was a high round Temple supported on round Pillars … wreathed round with artificial Flowers.” The table at the Prince Regent’s Feast at Carlton House in 1811, was described by Gentlemen’s Magazine as having,

Meanwhile, in Europe and America, the middle class was emerging and emulating the lifestyle of the wealthy. As the dinner party trend trickled down, becoming popular among the middle class in the late 19 th century, women began to use table setting as a way to express artistry, creativity, and taste. These women would not have been able to hire someone to create a tabletop tableau or afford an abundance of precious silver, so tastemakers like Mrs. Beeton grabbed the opportunity to write advice for the British housewife on how to set the table within her own means. In 1884, Beeton wrote in her Book of Household Management, “It may be observed, in general, that there should always be flowers on the table, and as they form no item of expense, there is no reason why they should not be employed every day.”

Photo courtesy Sam Hood/Hood Photographic Collection/Creative Commons

For those unsatisfied with a simple and tasteful flower arrangement (a 1941 Chicago Tribune article describes them as “women who knit their brows over table settings for special occasions”), 20 th -century table setting exhibitions offered further inspiration for thematic decorations a middle-class woman might recreate in her home. For these exhibitions, garden clubs would design and set up dining tables to be judged by a panel and viewed by the public. Each dining table had a specific theme. For example, “May Day luncheon, Ski supper, Explorer’s return luncheon, Aloha luncheon, Arabian buffet …” were all themes displayed at the 1941 Navy Pier Exhibit in Chicago. The winner of this exhibition was,

Such an elaborate display seems like the spiritual ancestor of Sandra Lee’s “tablescapes.” The TV chef coined the term in 2003, giving a name to the “artistic arrangement of articles on a table,” as Wiktionary puts it. The portmanteau evokes landscaping, cultivating a table to fulfill your desires. The housewife’s initial obsession with creating an elaborate table design may have come from a desire to dine like the wealthy and escape from the boredom of staying at home, but the urge to beautify survived the sexual revolution. Even liberated, working women (myself included) feel the need to breathe some life into quotidian dining now and then. Although it may seem a bit silly, Sandra Lee chooses to do so with cheery colors, crafty centerpieces like giant paper flowers, or a cardboard winter village, and names for tablescapes like “A Wisteria Wish.” The term tablescape also contains the word “escape.” If you feel like escaping to the Mediterranean, Sandra Lee has a tablescape for you to recreate, with pictures and instructions to follow on her website. Her concept and aesthetic have been well-received by the public—her signature ’scapes have been auctioned off, and there are even tablescape competitions, as parodied in a 2013 episode of Bob’s Burgers.

Photo courtesy Sam Hood/Hood Photographic Collection/Creative Commons

The latest trend in table setting is the rustic table, which appears to be a counter-reaction to the tablescape. You might see this kind of table at weddings, at dinner parties, beckoning from the pages of Kinfolk, or at that restaurant in Brooklyn. By stripping the table bare and doing away with the papier-mâché, crystal, color coordination, and professional flower arrangements, the rustic table attempts to take us back to a simpler time or way of life (like the era when people ate off of pieces of bread instead of plates). The rustic table, with its I-live-on-a-farm aesthetic, says that you recycle and eat sustainably, that you’re down-to-earth and don’t care for material goods, and that you certainly don’t think about setting a fancy table. However, considering that most of us don’t live on a farm, the rustic table is an idyllic fantasy, just as curated as a Sandra Lee table. Give it up, rustic ’scapers- most likely you didn’t just happen upon that burlap while cleaning out the barn.

Drop It Like It’s…A Drop Leaf Table Guide

We’re always in favor of furniture pieces that give you lots of bang for your buck, and a table that touts dual function can be an especially enticing pick. One lesser-known favorite? The drop leaf table. An undercover workhorse, the drop leaf table features two hinged leaves at either end. Pop the leaves up and it functions as a perfect dining table, or let them hang free and turn it into a console or bedside table, neatly tucked against the wall. Intrigued? Get to know more about the history of this chic, chameleon-like piece and learn about all the ways you can put a drop leaf table to work in your home.

Shop Drop-Leaf Tables

George III Drop-Leaf Dining Table

Antique English Georgian Mahogany …

Early English 1720s Elm or Oak Rou…

Antique American Empire Classical …

Fritz von der Schulenburg/The Interior Archive

The History of Drop Leaf Tables

The drop leaf dates back to the 16 th Century when the gateleg table was first introduced. The gateleg table has one fixed section and typically one or two hinged surfaces. When lifted, these hinged sections are supported by their own swing-out legs. The gateleg table inspired two English versions, the Pembroke table and the sofa table. The Pembroke table features drawers and flaps on both sides, while the sofa table was designed to be long enough to span the entire back of a sofa. From these historical designs, the modern day drop leaf table ultimately evolved.

Shop Drop-Leaf Tables

Gustavian Style Drop Leaf Writing …

Classical Regency Sheraton English…

Art Deco Maple Drop-Leaf Table

Biedermeier Drop Leaf Pedestal Tab…

Simon Upton/The Interior Archive

4 Reasons You Need A Drop Leaf Table

1. They Are Big Space Savers

If you’re living in cramped quarters, then you know floor space is a precious commodity. Using a drop leaf table as your kitchen or breakfast table gives you maximum flexibility. Keep your table’s leaves dropped to save space, and fold them out only when needed. You can also fold out just one leaf while keeping the other leaf dropped flush against a wall. This arrangement can create a little extra kitchen workspace–a luxury that many space-crunched apartments go without.

2. They Expand Easily

Because the leaves are permanently attached, a drop leaf dining table can be extended in five seconds flat, making them ideal for avid entertainers. Not having to lug the extra table leaves out of the closet means you have more time for cooking, cocktail shaking, and getting yourself party-ready. Equally as enticing is that when your crew departs, you need only devote another five seconds to folding down your leaves.

3. They Come In Tons of Styles & Sizes

Despite their traditional air, drop leaf table styles actually run the gamut. From traditional Pembroke tables, to the charm of circular gatelegs, to sleek Danish Modern iterations, there’s a drop leaf table to suit virtually any taste and space. Besides dining tables, drop leafs also come in smaller sizes, perfect for end tables on either side of the sofa. These cuties can become game tables or a bar setup in a flash.


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Porcelain, vitrified pottery with a white, fine-grained body that is usually translucent, as distinguished from earthenware, which is porous, opaque, and coarser. The distinction between porcelain and stoneware, the other class of vitrified pottery material, is less clear. In China, porcelain is defined as pottery that is resonant when struck. In the West, it is a material that is translucent when held to the light. Neither definition is totally satisfactory: some heavily potted porcelains are opaque, while some thinly potted stonewares are somewhat translucent. The word porcelain is derived from porcellana, used by Marco Polo to describe the pottery he saw in China.

The three main types of porcelain are true, or hard-paste, porcelain artificial, or soft-paste, porcelain and bone china. Porcelain was first made in China—in a primitive form during the Tang dynasty (618–907) and in the form best known in the West during the Yuan dynasty (1279–1368). This true, or hard-paste, porcelain was made from petuntse, or china stone (a feldspathic rock), ground to powder and mixed with kaolin (white china clay). During the firing, at a temperature of about 1,450 °C (2,650 °F), the petuntse vitrified, while the kaolin ensured that the object retained its shape. Attempts by medieval European potters to imitate this translucent Chinese porcelain led to the eventual discovery of artificial, or soft-paste, porcelain, a mixture of clay and ground glass requiring a “softer” firing (about 1,200 °C, or 2,200 °F) than hard-paste porcelain. Although there is a superficial resemblance, artificial porcelain can generally be distinguished from true porcelain by its softer body. It can be cut with a file, for example, whereas true porcelain cannot, and dirt accumulated on an unglazed base can be removed only with difficulty, if at all, whereas it is easily removed from true porcelain.

The first European soft-paste porcelain was made in Florence about 1575 at workshops under the patronage of Francesco I de’ Medici, but it was not until the late 17th and 18th centuries that it was produced in quantity. The secret of true porcelain, similar to the porcelain of China, was discovered about 1707 at the Meissen factory in Saxony by Johann Friedrich Böttger and Ehrenfried Walter von Tschirnhaus. The standard English bone china body was produced around 1800, when Josiah Spode the Second added calcined bones to the hard-paste porcelain formula. Although hard-paste porcelain is strong, its vitreous nature causes it to chip fairly easily, whereas bone china does not. Hard-paste porcelain is preferred on the European continent, whereas bone china is preferred in Britain and the United States.

Glaze, a glasslike substance originally used to seal a porous pottery body, is used solely for decoration on hard-paste porcelain, which is nonporous. When feldspathic glaze and body are fired together, the one fuses intimately with the other. Porcelain fired without a glaze, called biscuit porcelain, was introduced in Europe in the 18th century. It was generally used for figures. In the 19th century biscuit porcelain was called Parian ware. Some soft-paste porcelains, which remain somewhat porous, require a glaze. After the body has been fired, the glaze, usually containing lead, was added and fired to vitrify it. Unlike feldspathic glaze, it adheres as a relatively thick coating.

Painted decoration on porcelain is usually executed over the fired glaze. Because painting under the glaze—that is, on a fired, unglazed body—must be fired at the same high temperature as body and glaze, many colours would “fire away.” Thus, underglaze painting on porcelain is largely limited to the extremely stable and reliable cobalt blue found on Chinese blue-and-white wares. Most porcelain colours—called overglaze, enamel, or low-temperature colours—are painted over the fired glaze and fired at a much lower temperature.

Watch the video: Olos - Porcelain surfaces for design and furniture (May 2022).